How to Tip at a German Restaurant

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Did you know that German waiting staff get paid a certain amount per hour and therefore have a regular basic income?

The tips they get are a little extra for them. That’s why you can sit forever in most places as the waiters don’t depend on having as many guests during one evening as they possibly can!

Nevertheless, tipping is always a tricky thing – and many Germans will agree with me, I guess!

Tipping “Rules”

If the food and the service aren’t good, it is easy – just pay the amount you owe them and let them give back the change to you.  In other words, no tip.

If you liked everything, just round up.

  • For example, you have to pay 8,40 Euros, give them a ten and say “Neun, bitte.” (Nine, please.) and they will just give you one Euro in return – the rest is their tip and they will know it and hopefully say “Danke”.  If it is 8,60 Euros you have to pay, usually just give them 9 as well.
  • If it is 8,90 Euros, you could either say “Neun” or say “Neun fünfzig” (nine fifty), for example, depending on the situation.
  • If it was this REALLY brilliant food, you could also give a ten and say “Stimmt so.” which means that they can keep everything and that you don’t expect getting back any change. If you have to pay a higher amount, let’s say 38,40 Euro, and you liked the food and the service, you can also give them 40 Euros, for example. The tip depends on the amount on your bill as well as the circumstances, but it is not the standard 15% that Americans pay.

In bigger cities (with generally higher prices – but also most likely with higher incomes, e.g. Düsseldorf) people will tend to give bigger tips than in our region where the price level is rather moderate. Your tip shouldn’t exceed the amount on your bill and usually shouldn’t be more than 2 Euros.  I once witnessed an English-speaking lady in Düsseldorf who had ordered a drink for about 3,50 Euros and gave the waitress a tip of 5 Euros. The waitress was speechless and was so impressed that she could barely whisper a thank you. It was probably the biggest tip she had ever gotten!

Avoid giving coins back to the waiter after receiving your change. Although they will understand and appreciate the tip, it is unusual to handle it like that.  Also, it is not customary to leave the tip on table.

So, why don’t you go out for dinner soon, explore German restaurants and have a good time? You will see that after a couple of nights out you will feel a little more comfortable with the situation – and, who knows, maybe you can recommend a great place to your friends afterwards?

- Written by  A. Rath

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